Prof. Ariel Porat, president of Tel Aviv University, called on Monday on Israeli leaders of private and public institutions and organizations to declare a general strike if the Israeli government will not abide by the decision of the High Court.
In his letter, which caused an uproar of both support and criticism upon its publication, Porat argues that "we are presently facing a very real threat of reaching a constitutional crisis."
"Government ministers, including the prime minister, refuse to say, simply, that they intend to obey the decision of the High Court, if it rules that the annulment of the reasonableness standard – or any other law brought before it – is legally invalid (for instance, because it was passed through a problematic procedure, or undermines the pillars of Israel's democracy, and so forth)."
"Thus, for example, we may find ourselves in a situation in which the High Court, having ruled that the annulment of the reasonableness standard is invalid, uses this standard to disqualify government decisions, but the government on its part ignores this court decision and acts as it wills."
TAU president warns: Government will lose its legitimacy
Porat stresses in his letter that, in a democratic state such as Israel, one has to abide by the rulings of the judiciary.
This is not because court rulings are flawless, but because the institution authorized to ultimately determine the judicial situation is the judiciary and no other, he further argues.
Therefore, if the government, intentionally, does not abide by the ruling of the court, or issues orders that contradict this ruling, it becomes a lawbreaking government and loses its legitimacy. It places itself above the law, and by doing so demonstrates that it is a dictatorial government, Porat writes.
"As citizens, we must make immediately clear the consequences of the government not abiding by the rulings of the High Court. The heads of all institutions and organizations in Israel, both public and private, such as trade unions and employers, local authorities, universities, hi-tech companies, and law firms, must unite and say out loud, right now, that should we reach a situation in which the government does not abide by the ruling of the High Court, the entire economy will come to a halt - until the government retracts its disobedience."
"Such a shutdown will be an extreme step, but we will not have the privilege of refraining from taking it, because dictatorship is an even more extreme scenario. Declaring the intention to strike does not mean taking a political stance. It has nothing to do with the proclaimer's position on the legitimacy of the constitutional overhaul. It is a proclamation stemming from the basic conception that the government – just like each and every one of us – must respect the law and abide by the rulings of the court, even if they are not to its liking. I, as president of Tel Aviv University, make this declaration here and now. Please consider doing the same!"
Leading Israeli law firms joins TAU president's call
Israel's leading law firms on Tuesday joined the TAU president's call for a general strike, stressing that the call is not political but "serves to carry out their duties as attorneys and legal experts."
"Our call is based on the rule of law and the basic government that the government, just like each and every one of us, must respect the rule of law, whose assigned interpreter is the High Court."
The leading law firms joining Porat's call include Meitar, Arnon, Tadmor-Levy, Shibolet, Firon, Gornitzky, Naschitz, Brandes, Amir, S. Horowitz, Agmon, Pearl Cohen, Erdinast, Ben Nathan, Toledano, Barnea, ERM and KRB.